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thedrifter
03-28-05, 06:53 AM
Vidalia High senior ready to serve in Marines
By Nita McCann
The Natchez Democrat



It's less than one-and-a-half months until Jared Kerrigan graduates high school, and he can't wait to get started on what's next.

But for this 18-year-old Vidalia High senior, the next step is not a well-earned vacation, the freshman year of college or a start in a family business, but the United States military.

Fresh off a long shift as a stock clerk at Vidalia Market, Kerrigan's weary face brightened as he talked about going off to boot camp for the Marines.

With his grandfather fighting as an Army soldier in World War II - "he got shot three times" - Kerrigan grew up familiar with the military, and joining was basically all he wanted to do when he grew up.

"I've always respected those guys" and girls that served in the military, Kerrigan said.

So in June, he signed up to become one of tens of thousands of enlisted Marines.



Kerrigan isn't alone - he knows several people his age who have signed up for the military, including one young woman.

And it's not strictly because the area's economy makes a steady job attractive, either. "You get to travel, the benefits are good, you get an education and you get to retire in 20 years," Kerrigan said.

Kerrigan, who signed up for four years of active duty and four years of inactive, isn't sure what he wants to do in life if he doesn't make the military his lifetime career. He does believe going through military training will help him decide. First things first, however. Just a few days after his May 13 graduation, Kerrigan will report to Paris Island for 13 weeks of boot camp, come back home for 10 days, then head off to combat training and other courses. Then, he gets his orders.

Kerrigan did say he would miss his girlfriend, Jodi Davis; his mother, Barbara DeLozier; and his father and stepmother, Bobby and Diane Kerrigan.

When asked how they have reacted to his possibly going to war, Kerrigan paused just a second. "They're used to it," he said.

And how does Kerrigan feel about perhaps going off to combat in far-off places such as Iraq? "I'm ready," Kerrigan said.

Watching Kerrigan head out the door, store Assistant Manager Eddie Weatherly paused himself before describing the Kerrigan he's known."Dependable, a hard worker, they're getting a good man," he said.

"I've known him since he was a little kid," he added, dropping his hand to knee level.

Weatherly hasn't served as active military, but he was in the National Guard.

His advice for Kerrigan? "Keep your head up, take what they dish out and make the best of it."



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